When the UK’s Love Island host Caroline Flack joked earlier this week, “There’s nothing wrong with an age gap,” she stirred up a lot of memories. Like, memories of when she used to date Harry Styles, when she was 32 and he was just 17.
As some people have pointed out, in the #MeToo era, maybe that’s not something you want to be reminding everyone of.
It’s no secret that Styles has always had a bit of a thing for older women. Just 16 when he became mega-famous through One Direction, Styles quickly developed a reputation for dating women decades older. When asked about it, at the age of 18, he declared that he would go out with women who were “anything up to my mum’s age. She’s 44!”
Seeing as One Direction fans tend to send death threats to anyone romantically linked with Styles, perhaps it’s better that his lovers are a bit more mature.
Watch: Rebel Wilson reveals she has received death threats from Harry Styles fans. Post continues after video.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the older women Styles has dated – or is rumoured to have dated – over the years.
Caroline Flack (age gap: 15 years)
Flack dated Styles in 2011, when she was host of The Xtra Factor. She says the relationship began to go wrong when Style was photographed coming out of her house.
“Once that was out, it was open season – anyone could say anything,” she later wrote. “In the street people started shouting at me ‘paedophile’ and ‘pervert’.”
Flack defended the age gap by saying she never felt she was much older than Styles anyway.
“I still feel 18 and probably act that way half the time — all those years in kids’ telly probably didn’t help.”
Lucy Horobin (age gap: 15 years)
Horobin was hosting a radio show in Manchester when One Direction came into the studio to promote their single “What Makes You Beautiful” in 2011. Horobin and Styles flirted outrageously on air, and then stayed in touch. At the time, Styles was 17 and Horobin 32. She was married, but reportedly going through a rocky patch.
In early 2012, the Sunday Mirror claimed they’d had an affair, and later that year, news of Horobin’s marriage breakdown became public. Her husband, Oliver Pope, gave an interview to the Mirror, as he was in the process of filing for divorce.
“I know how stupid it sounds but I blame Harry 100 per cent for this,” he said.
“Realising my wife had decided to leave me because she had fallen for a 17-year-old boy, that’s the most embarrassing thing.”